Apple's New Smart Battery Case: Everything You Need to Know


Apple in January launched Smart Battery Cases designed for the iPhone XS, XS Max, and iPhone XR. The Smart Battery Cases are designed to add additional battery life to Apple's newest iPhones.

Priced at $129, the Smart Battery Cases come in either black or white and are made from the same material as Apple's silicone cases. From our hands on article:

How does it work?

The Smart Battery Cases are similar in design to a silicone case but with an extra bump on the back that houses the battery pack. While attached to the iPhone, the Smart Battery Case functions like an external battery pack, providing additional power to the iPhone.

A Lightning connector built into the case connects to the Lightning port in the iPhone, but Lightning access remains available due to an additional Lightning port in the case itself.

When you have the Smart Battery Case on your iPhone, your iPhone will use all of the charge in the case before expending its own battery.

What's the capacity?

Each of the Smart Battery Cases features two 1,369mAh battery cells inside. Because there are two battery cells wired together, the cases run at a higher voltage that offers 10.1Wh of energy, making them higher capacity than previous battery cases introduced for iPhone 6s and 7.

How much extra battery life does it add?

Apple lists the approximate battery life you can expect from each iPhone while in the case, broken down into different use cases.

- iPhone XR total battery life with case - Up to 39 hours talk time, 22 hours internet use, and 27 hours video playback.

- iPhone XS total battery life with case - Up to 33 hours talk time, 21 hours internet use, and 25 hours video playback.

- iPhone XS Max total battery life with case - Up to 37 hours talk time, 20 hours internet use, and 25 hours video playback.

So, if we compare those totals with the normal battery life for each of these devices, we can see how much additional battery life each case adds. Normal battery life estimates for each iPhone:

- iPhone XR: Up to 25 hours talk, 15 hours internet, 16 hours video

- iPhone XS: Up to 20 hours talk, 12 hours internet, 14 hours video

- iPhone XS Max: Up to 25 hours talk, 13 hours internet, 15 hours video

The estimated additional battery life added with each Smart Battery Case:

- iPhone XR: +14 hours talk time, +7 hours internet time, +11 hours video playback

- iPhone XS: +13 hours talk time, +9 hours internet time, +11 hours video playback

- iPhone XS Max: +12 hours talk time, +7 hours internet time, +10 hours video playback

These are, of course, estimates from Apple based on certain tasks on the iPhone. The actual battery life that you get from each Smart Battery Case is going to vary based on what you're doing, but in general, these cases are adding 50 to 75 percent additional battery depending on task.

How does the case charge?

Apple built Qi wireless charging into the Smart Battery Case, so both the case and the iPhone can be charged using any Qi wireless charging accessory.

You can also charge the case via Lightning, and if you use a USB-PD compatible charger (aka a USB-C charger paired with a USB-C to Lightning cable) the case will charge up even faster. For fast charging, you can use one of Apple's USB-C Power Adapters for MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, or MacBook, but third-party USB-C chargers over 18W also work.

Your iPhone will always charge before the case if the battery is low, and once the iPhone's battery is full, the case will charge. You can also charge the case all on its own without your iPhone inside using any of these charging methods.

Note: The Smart Battery Case does not come with a Lightning cable for charging purposes, so you will need to supply your own.

Can I use the Lightning port with the case on?

The Smart Battery Case’s Lightning port acts as a passthrough, so you can use Lightning-based accessories like headphones and adapters with your phone while it’s inside the case.

How can I check remaining battery life?

When the Smart Battery Case is attached to the iPhone, the battery life of the case is displayed on the Lock screen when you put it on a wireless charger, attach it to an iPhone for the first time, or attach a Lightning cable.

You can also check the battery life at any time by swiping to the right on the Home screen to open the Today view of the Notification Center. There's a battery widget that lists the battery life of the iPhone, the case, and other attached devices like AirPods or the Apple Watch.

Does the XS case work with the iPhone X?

Yes, with some caveats. The case is designed for the iPhone XS and while the iPhone X and XS are nearly identical, there are a few minor differences. For this reason, the speaker and microphone holes on the case don't line up right on the iPhone X, and the camera cutout is a little off.

You can get the iPhone X in the case, though, and it will charge, but you might run into some problems and need to do a little troubleshooting.

Attaching the case to the iPhone X might result in a popup suggesting the iPhone is not compatible with it, but if you dismiss this popup, it should still charge. If charging does not work, you may need to restart or update your version of iOS to iOS 12.1.3, which is currently in beta testing.

Where can I buy the Smart Battery Case?

Apple sells the Smart Battery Cases for iPhone XS, XS Max, and XR both online and in its retail stores. The cases are priced at $129.

Related Roundups: iPhone XS, iPhone XR

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